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Need a dinner suggestion for Thursday 1/03

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I have friends in town from CA and as usual I can't think of a place to take them for dinner. I don't want to break the bank (so L'Espalier and company are out), but I want to go somewhere that they'll remember when they come back next time.

I was thinking South End, but any neighborhood works since we'll be coming from the suburbs.

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  1. Any cuisine preferences? Give us a dollar amount w/out drinks. Are you springing for the check or is this dutch?

    1 Reply
    1. re: Taralli

      I'm thinking 50 dollars per person average check for food (3 courses) not including wine or beverages. They're picking up the check and we have no preference to cuisine (although my wife is allergic to most seafood).

    2. I'd go for Sage, which is excellent Italian, now moved to the South End.

      1. I think Toro's pretty special... if you like share-y style tapas dining.

        1. Grotto in Beacon Hill esp for the gnocchi or the risotto

          FuLoon in Malden Center, if you know your way around a Chinese language menu (or see one of my endless posts on same)

          Helmand in East Cambridge (which my wife and I finally went to for the first time, enjoyed mightily)

          (Only known to me by reputation, have yet to get out there): Small Plates in Harvard Square; Trattoria Toscana in the Fenway; La Voile on Newbury Street

          2 Replies
          1. re: Dr.Jimbob

            If part of the goal is to give them a feel for the city, I'd suggest one of the less annoying North End restaurants, like Mamma Maria (quintissential location and the food is not half bad) or Laurel in the Back Bay off of Columbus.

            If the main goal is good food and a classy atmosphere, try Oleanna in Cambridge, La Morra in Brookline, Salts in Cambridge (wonderful winter menu) or even Sandrine's in Harvard Square...

            1. re: Dr.Jimbob

              I've been meaning to rave about the mini-burgers and wine drinks at small plates...so here's a good opportunity. We went last week and everything was good but some things really stood out.

              We ordered the (already mentioned) mini burgers, blue cheese raclette, maine crab timbale, and black + white seasame seared salmon (tapa size). The burgers were great--two small burgers on the freshest of rolls topped with sauteed onions which were nicely condiment-ed by the mustard. I was actually worried about the cooking of the mini-burgers when the waitress didn't ask how I wanted them (i always get my mean medium-rare)...and they came back perfectly pink in the middle. The crab and salmon were both very good -- impressively plated and tasty. The raclette was a disappointment in both appearance and taste (which is too bad because normally, put a piece of cheese infront of me and it is gone in seconds...not this time...)

              However, I'm so glad that I saved a bit of room for the dessert which was an amazing, amazing bread pudding. I mean, amazing.

              I had two glass of the rebujito blanco. At $4 you can't find a better drink value in harvard square...

              I'll be going back for the burgers and to try the lamb chops, mussels....

              yum!